ConvergeSouth – all good (except for…)

ConvergeSouth was, again, a great event organized by some great people.   Even though I am loath to single out any of the many worker bees who made this year’s edition such a success, a special “job well done” goes out to Sue, Ben, Ed and jw who seemed to be everywhere at the same time.

I attended several very informative sessions, but two stand out for very different reasons.

Tom Lassiter’s session on making better videos was what ConvergeSouth is supposed to be all about.  It was ‘nuts and bolts’ oriented and defined the unconference mantra that “the audience knows more than the session leaders”.  Lenslinger chimed in with a pro’s point of view and told how everyone can benefit from sticking to the basics.  Cone posted some highlights of that session which has caused me to consider delving into adding video here in the future.

On the other hand, the session billed as ‘J-School vs B-School’ was the worst session I have ever attended.

Facilitated by UNC-CH J-School professor Andy Betchel, NCA&T J-School professor Teresa Styles, and the N&R’s Joe Killian, the session made my head hurt.

It seemed as though only Killian got the memo about “the audience knows more…” and he did his best to speak only when spoken to and to advance the conversation.  The two professors, however, seemed to think we were there only to discover how smart they are.

Although Betchel had the good manners to keep his prepared comments to a minimum, Sykes (thanks, Sue) Styles was intolerable.  After she was recognized and called on to make an opening comment, she whipped out a multi-page dissertation and proceeded to read it to the audience… verbatim.  The session went to hell in a hand cart after that.  I looked around the room as Styles droned on and on and I saw eyes rolling so far back in heads that I thought some attendees would be permanently blinded.

Now and again someone would interupt Styles ad-naseum monologue and try to steer the session back into an actual conversation, but she was not to be deterred from reading her self-important lecture from end to end.  One time she even interrupted what little give and take Killian was able to foster by saying, “I just have a few more points to make…”, and went right back to reading to us like we were a bunch of third graders during story time.

When I was able to get a word in edgewise, I told her that while her readings were interesting (I was lying, but trying to be nice), they would have been much better suited as a hand out.

It would have been helpful for the J-School/B-School session to have been video taped.  That way, everyone who volunteers to lead a session for ConvergeSouth 08 can be sent a great example of what NOT to do.

But, still, overall my hat goes off to the ConvergeSouth team for a tremendous event.  I learned a lot, met some great folks, got re-acquanted with some old friends, and marvelled at what all can be done, and is being done, on the Internets.

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21 Comments

  1. Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Without venturing into an opinion (I didn’t attend this session), her name is “Styles.”

  2. dhoggard
    Posted October 21, 2007 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Sue. Late night revelling and early morning fat fingers are to blame. My apologies to Styles on the mis-spelling only.

  3. Posted October 21, 2007 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I suspect that neither had heard about the instructor from Elon University and the controversial article he had written earlier this year. I saw the Session and realized that your experience would be EXACTLY as described, because neither B-School or J-School gets “it.”

    The problem is that very few schools get it because they are so entrenched in self-congratulations – from writing books that are required by classes that are required by the professors that write the books. The only problem is that I suspect that neither lecturer learned anything, may be except not to venture far away from their classes again.

  4. Posted October 21, 2007 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    After the great video session, Lex, Wharton and I just stayed put. A few minutes later, in walks Kirk Ross, my new best friend.

  5. Posted October 21, 2007 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    It’s true that the A+T professor went on a bit, but I thought it was actually UNC Professor Bechtel that broached the subject of Elon Profesor Skubes’s anti-blogger stuff. Anyway, I’ve got to give A+T a pass for hosting, and Professor Fink’s session on legal matters (while unexpectedly baby-sitting) wins points for Elon.

  6. Posted October 21, 2007 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I am happy to read Fec has a new friend. I wonder if Kirk knows it yet? Typically, Hogg doesn’t mention my contributions to this years event. I hate that I did not get to hear Ed chat vids. I have no doub tthat it was inspiring! Hogg, I promise to make fun of of your vids when you get them up. However, I doubt you will ever have time to make vids.

  7. Posted October 21, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry the J-school session was a disappointment. Some people afterward told me that they enjoyed it, but I understand your concerns. Rest assured that as the moderator, I was working hard to make sure as many voices were heard in the time that we had.

    In my opening comments to get the conversation started, I did mention the Skube op-ed column. I did so to let everyone know that his view is not shared by everyone in journalism programs. I also briefly described our efforts at UNC to get students interested in blogging and how we are incorporating this growing medium into our courses.

    I was also upfront about the fact that in many ways, academia is behind, but that some of us are working hard to catch up. That’s why I came to ConvergeSouth — first, to learn more and to bring what I learned back to the classroom, and second, to talk with other people how this type of communication intersects with journalism education.

  8. Posted October 21, 2007 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Last year was my first ConvergeSouth — and because of work I didn’t get to attend nearly as many this year as I would have liked — but I’ve got to agree with Hoggard that the session I was part of would have been more interesting with more from the audience and less from us.

    I didn’t bring any prepared remarks because I thought we’d just show up, introduce ourselves and rap. I got to talk with some people from the session a lot more afterward, during lunch.

  9. Posted October 21, 2007 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    This was my first year at ConvergeSouth, and I’m SO glad that I went. I’ll second Johnny’s comment that the legal session was really interesting.

  10. dhoggard
    Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Andy,
    Thanks for chiming in here and I really appreciate your particiaption in ConvergeSouth despite my rant. But someone should have broken in and suggested to Dr. Styles to either post or print out her dissertation so we could read it at our leisure.

    Shame is, I’ll bet she could have added a lot to the session if she hadn’t been so intent on reading to us.

  11. dhoggard
    Posted October 21, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Almost forgot…

    Typically, Ben Holder obviously wants to be recognized for his contribution to ConvergeSouth and I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t mention the fact that he came by my house Friday afternoon and asked if I needed anything. I told him I needed ice for the coolers and he graciously went out and bought that and some plastic table cloths on his own dime. He also bought me a watermelon.

    Better, Ben? Peace, please?

    For the record I also didn’t mention dozens of other folks who worked many, many hours to make the weekend a success. If you want credit, please make a snide remark below this like Ben did above and I’ll be happy to publish what your contribution was.

  12. Posted October 21, 2007 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    What!!?!! I don’t get credit for starting this whole thing with Sue and Ed and uhhh….enlightening everyone with my mere presence at CS? The nerve!

    :p

  13. Posted October 21, 2007 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I moved some bags off of a cooler so someone could open it to grab a beer. Why didn’t you mention that? Typical.

  14. Posted October 22, 2007 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    I bet Sandy and Ed ate watermelon

  15. Posted October 22, 2007 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I opened a pack of napkins. Can that count towards community service hours?

  16. Posted October 22, 2007 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    David — I was so happy to see you and Jenny looking so mahvelously mayjah…and regret deeply that I forgot to nab a bag of barbecue, as it was among the best to have ever touched my uvula.
    Go ahead and mark me in for next year…but I certainly hope I get to see you before that. Please consider mi casa your Charlotte getaway casa.

    Jude sends her love…
    Dave

  17. dhoggard
    Posted October 22, 2007 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Actually, the Hoggards and some neighbors ate watermellon yesterday, Ben.

  18. joe wilson
    Posted October 22, 2007 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey David , I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed standing in your front yard the other night ,it was a welcome respite from the rigors of running for office. It also afforded me an opportunity to meet some of the people I have heard from on my blog and yours. I hope to be able to attend upcoming events you will undoubtedly host. I think I will exercise the open invitation you extended to me to further increase my waist size as your place seems to be an excellent venue for said activity. Once again thanks to you and your family for the hospitality.

  19. ech
    Posted October 22, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Dave,
    I want my kudos and credits for not attending CS! Between work and more work my schedule would not allow me a little Q & B (that’s barbecue and bourbon for those outside of Greensboro).

  20. Posted October 22, 2007 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    sorry to miss the bbq, david, but i was setting up the music event from 6pm on… hope you had a blast.

  21. Posted October 23, 2007 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Eric,

    You didn’t lead your scheduled session?

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    [...] David Hoggard noted on his blog, this one was kind of a train wreck. Both professors came with prepared remarks, one with a [...]